5 Fundamental Features Auditing Tools Should Have
Using SEO auditing tools on your site is essential to understanding how you can optimize your WordPress site for both users and search engines. It can also help you monitor the progress you are making on a particular site and to define future objectives.
The search engine optimization (SEO) industry is saturated with tools, online help, and so-called industry experts, so choosing the right tools or services can be a little overwhelming. It’s always worthwhile to map out your expectations, making a note of what you want to achieve and what your budget is before you start, as this can help inform your decision.
If you’re after SEO auditing tools to help you with your digital marketing and online visibility, we’ve put together a list of five essential attributes that every tool should have. Choosing an effective tool will make the auditing and reporting process much easier.
What are SEO Auditing Tools?
SEO auditing tools are programs designed to crawl and examine your site. They look for key areas that are known ranking signals that search engines use to determine where your site should rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). The purpose of an SEO audit is to identify any errors that could be hindering your site’s performance – as well as highlight what’s working well.
What are the features of the best SEO auditing tools?
1. Technical Site Crawl
Technical SEO is crucial to your site’s success because it ensures Google can actually read, crawl, and understand your content. You will want to choose a tool that is capable of scrutinizing the more technical elements of your site.
As well as being able to detect the presence of a robots.txt file and an XML sitemap, good SEO auditing tools will be able to perform a deep site crawl in a similar way to Google Search Console (GSC) to uncover any issues with the following:
Check that H1 tags, content, and meta descriptions are all unique to every page so you don’t get flagged for duplicate content – a big no-no in Google’s eyes.
Broken Pages and links
Crawlers access pages via links, so you want to make sure that there are no errors here. A site crawl can also verify the HTTP status code for each URL it encounters. Detecting any error codes returned will greatly improve your site’s performance.
HTTP and HTTPS conflicts
A site crawl feature can show you which pages aren’t being indexed and provide explanations why. Getting your site indexed is crucial to your SEO. You could have the best, most compelling content in the world, but if Google isn’t indexing it, no one will ever see it.
You would use a canonical tag if a page hosts content that is identical – or similar enough – to another URL that it could be considered duplicate content. The URL within the canonical tag tells a search engine where they can find the original version of the page and where they should consolidate link juice.
2. Mobile friendliness
Since Google introduced mobile-first indexing, the mobile version of a site has become a critical ranking signal. At first glance, you might think the mobile version of your site is fine, but the devil is in the details.
Good SEO auditing tools should, therefore, be able to scrutinize your site for mobile-friendliness and assess the following criteria:
An audit should examine the size of your site’s tap targets and links to ensure they can be clicked on smaller screens, like a mobile phone or tablet.
This will detect any embedded objects on your site, such as Flash, Silverlight or Java. It’s important because not all mobile devices are compatible with these technologies.
This will analyze the viewpoint across mobile devices to make sure all of your content fits on the screen. Setting a mobile viewport creates a responsive design, which is a factor when search engines determine your mobile friendliness.
This is arguably the most important element when optimizing your mobile friendliness. For your WordPress site, you should consider using AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Google-implemented AMP to deliver the best browsing experience for mobile users and to allow them to get information as quickly as possible. A good audit tool will likely suggest implementing AMP to maximize your site speed.
Good SEO auditing tools will also be able to tell you how to optimize site speed by checking that:
- Images are optimized
- Browser caching has been leveraged.
3. Keyword Rank Position
Monitoring the rank position of your keywords is very rewarding and a great indication of your site’s overall performance. It’s also a valuable metric to report on because it shows more tangible results.
The key features to look out for are:
The ability to add and monitor a good number of keywords
Some tools only allow you to track five keywords on a free subscription and you have to purchase more keywords. Solid SEO auditing tools should be able to track up to 200 or more.
Provide monthly search volume
Unfortunately, Google’s Keyword Planner no longer provides data on monthly search volume unless you’re paying for PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns, so getting a tool that can do this for you will be an added bonus, especially during your research. Knowing the monthly search volume will also allow you to identify if a keyword is worth targeting. If the search volume is crazy-high, it might be too competitive and you will have a really hard time ranking for it. If it’s low-volume, it will be easier to rank for but it won’t matter, because people aren’t searching for that word or phrase in the first place.
Knowing your rank position allows you to see where your site appears in SERPs for specific search terms.
Knowing the number of places you’ve gained or dropped since the previous week is beneficial. If you’ve dropped significantly in the span of one week, something you’ve changed is probably repelling your target audience.
Being able to track where your competitors rank is very useful. You can assess what they are doing well and build your strategy with tips from theirs.
Position over time
Being able to track and present progress is especially handy if you manage SEO on behalf of clients. It’s also good to know for your own site, so you can see if your digital marketing efforts are paying off. If you see your position dipping, it’s time to change something!
A real view of the sites appearing in SERPs above yours is useful when assessing keyword difficulty. If the sites ranking highly have good page and domain authority you’ll find it harder to rank well for that keyword. This can also help you identify competitors you might not have known about before. In SEO, your competitors aren’t necessarily in your industry. They are whoever is targeting the same keywords you are to reach your target audience.
4. Google Analytics syncing
It will save you valuable time if you can find SEO auditing tools that sync with Google Analytics (GA).
Obviously, the reports you see in the tool won’t be as detailed as the reports you can generate in analytics, but being able to measure any increases in traffic, new visitors, behaviors, and page views will come in handy when producing those SEO audit reports.
Also, you should be able to see the average time spent on your site and number of pages visited during a session and where your visitors are coming from. These nuggets of information will give you a broader idea of where your users are finding you, and if they are actually engaging with your content or leaving your site immediately.
5. Friendly interface
Some SEO auditing tools can be intimidating. With any new tool, there’s a period of getting acquainted. However, a well-designed tool with a user-friendly layout will save you time (and potential headaches). Choose a tool that has carefully thought about the user experience.
Things that will make a tool easier to use are:
- Easy access to help, like on-site tutorials, SEO guides, and a responsive customer service team that is available around the clock.
- An informative blog that you can refer to when you need explanation or strategic tips for your digital marketing plan. A blog will likely also write about industry news, like important Google algorithm updates that could change the way you structure and optimize your site.
- Expert users that you can direct questions to or even hire for assistance. This is a helpful feature if you are a novice and need someone to guide you through the steps or just do them for you.
- Assess the general layout. Is the tool visually appealing and easy to understand?
- Provides a clear idea of what site components need optimizing, rather than just giving a score. Strong SEO auditing tools will augment your static score with clear, actionable advice to improve your site.
Finding SEO auditing tools
A lot of SEO auditing tools will offer a free trial or free version with limited features. Use this time to tinker with the tool’s features and assess its potential. There’s no shame in trying out a few different tools before you find the right fit. A single tool isn’t going to necessarily address a.ll your needs, so find one as comprehensive and complete as you can. Optimizing your site is not a passive activity, and you want to have the best tools available!
Use the checklist of features that we recommend and, if your tool doesn’t have these features, then it might be worth finding a tool that does.
Not only will these features make your SEO easier and more efficient, being able to assess all of the areas mentioned above will have your site performing better for greater visibility. Once you have started your SEO efforts, you can reap the rewards of increased visibility, a more focused audience, and a big boost in traffic (and conversions)!
SEO Auditing Tools – Conclusion
Luckily, with SEO auditing tools, it is really easy to do the most fundamental element in SEO — testing! In the search industry, we follow the golden ABC rule: Always Be Checking. Optimizing your site isn’t something you do once and then never pay attention to again; the rules and algorithms we base our strategies on are constantly changing. This usually happens swiftly and without warning. What’s best practice today might actually hurt your rankings in a few months’ time.
An audit tool can help you easily monitor if the changes you are making to your site are paying off. It can also help you quickly flag issues on your site that could be causing you to suffer in the SERPs.
Most SEO auditing tools require a monthly subscription. So, make sure you are completely happy with the tool before you commit. Decide what features are essential and ensure you have tested the tool for your purposes before you pay.
For help with your SEO please check out our SEO Services. We’d love to help you get rankings and dominate the search engines.